Newly elected Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke said he doesn't plan to remove any incumbent committee chairmen and that he's considering asking former Speaker Lawerence Denney to lead a committee.
"I'm not anticipating making any changes," said Bedke, R-Oakley, shortly after Denney swore him in as his successor Thursday morning. Bedke said he will try to reshuffle schedules to allow every member to have a morning committee and rely heavily on a record-breaking freshman class.
Denney, a 16-year House veteran from Midvale, will have a "substantive role," Bedke said. "We do not have the luxury to overlook experience."
Bedke has sole authority to name chairs and vice-chairs. Retirements and moves to the Senate have left six of 14 committee chairmanships vacant: Business, Commerce & Human Resources, Education, Health & Welfare, Resources & Conservation and Revenue & Taxation.
"My platform all along has been one of inclusion," Bedke said, adding that the large freshman class -- 31 lawmakers elected to their first term in a 70-member House -- requires a different approach. "It's absolutely imperative that we plug people in. By necessity, they will have more of a role."
Bedke said regional and philosophical balance will be important standards and that he will resist "stacking" committees. He said he will encourage colleagues to avoid labeling one another and have open minds about varying viewpoints.
"Each one of these people are their districts' first choice," he said.
Bedke said he expects to have a good relationship with Majority Leader Mike Moyle, R-Star, who supported Denney for a fourth term as speaker. Moyle held the No. 2 leadership post the last six years, while Bedke was the No. 3, assistant leader.
"I think history has shown that I get along with Rep. Moyle very well," Bedke said.
Of his win, which was the first forced ouster of a top Idaho Legislative leader since 1982, Bedke said, "I'm grateful. I'm humbled. I'm happy. I didn't take this on lightly."